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Crystelle Mourning    by Eisa Nefertari Ulen Amazon.com order for
Crystelle Mourning
by Eisa Nefertari Ulen
Order:  USA  Can
Atria, 2006 (2006)
Hardcover

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* *   Reviewed by Lyn Seippel

Crystelle's life is great. She has a sympathetic and loving fiancÚ and a good job in New York City. She might even be pregnant. She just isn't sure she deserves to be so lucky.

During the prologue, readers are introduced to Crystelle as a teenager. She's at a graduation party in West Philadelphia where she grew up. The party was a defining moment in her life, a moment that she will live over and over again in her dreams and thoughts. That night someone she cared about was shot. The death of her boyfriend, Jimmie, still haunts her. Although she didn't pull the trigger, she still wonders, how responsible for his death was she?

Crystelle grew up in a close-knit Philadelphia neighborhood where everyone knew their neighbors. Throughout the book, she shares memories of her childhood. We're given a poignant look at her life as a child. She was raised by her mama and southern granddaddy. Times then were good and bad. Ulen's description of the West Philly community is rich, and the supporting characters are engaging.

Before she can continue with her present life, Crystelle must go back to her old neighborhood to find answers to her questions. She meets with old friends and family, but it is Jimmie's mother, a woman of compassion and forgiveness, who helps Crystelle find a way to move forward.

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